Yes, You Really Can Find Great-Smelling Cologne for $50 or Less

hawthorne work and play cologne bottles,
Courtesy of Hawthorne
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Nothing boosts confidence like a great-smelling cologne, but you’ll feel a lot better about smelling better when that cologne doesn’t cost you $200/ounce. In the not-so-distant past, a phrase like “best cheap cologne” was an oxymoron, but that’s no longer the case. Today, you can find sophisticated colognes under $50 from familiar favorites like Nautica as well as designer labels like Calvin Klein.

Why spend over $100 on cologne when you can get sophisticated men’s cologne for under $50? We’ve tried many colognes at that price point and we promise you there’s plenty to love in the cheaper cologne market.

At the same time, for around $50, you can find smaller bottles of designer cologne from fashion houses like Versace. That means you don’t have to compromise on quality or intensity of fragrance, although you will compromise on quantity, of course. But if you only wear cologne sparingly, then having less cologne to begin with won’t be a problem.

And if you know you want something more intense or less, keep in mind the traditional branding of fragrances: eau de parfum, eau de toilette and eau de cologne. The first will have the highest concentration of perfume oil and the third will have the least, with eau de toilette somewhere in the middle. Because perfume oil is expensive, even the best cheap cologne will generally be either an eau de toilette or an eau de cologne. The term cologne is generally used as a shorthand for all fragrances for men, even those technically labeled as eau de parfum.

So, while we respect you fancy gentlemen out there dropping $330 on a 1.7-ounce bottle of Byredo cologne, most guys live more in the $50 range. If you do too, check out our roundup of the 11 best cheap colognes below. Nearly everything is priced $50 or under, with only a few options costing more than $50. No matter the price, one of the benefits of buying cheap cologne is that even if you don’t like the fragrance, you’ll only be out $50 instead of $200.

FAQ: Buying Cheap Cologne Online

Look, finding a new scent isn't easy. We get it. Fortunately for you, we live and breathe cologne, and we're always on the lookout for $50 cologne that smells more like $300 designer fragrances. Buying cheap cologne online requires navigating a minefield of sub-par fragrances and too-good-to-be-true counterfeit colognes. However, the market also has exciting new colognes from up-and-coming brands like The Dollar Shave Club and Fulton & Roark.

What is the best cheap cologne for men?

The best cheap cologne for men comes courtesy of Versace, and for just $55 for a 1-ounce bottle. The fashion house's Natural Spray is a light eau de toilette fragrance with a floral-mineral profile. Think confident Mediterranean heartthrob on a yacht.

Where should you buy cologne online?

To avoid counterfeit fragrances, we strongly recommend avoiding unfamiliar retailers and third-party marketplaces like eBay. In general, it's best to purchase cologne online from department stores, such as Nordstrom and Macy's, and trusted retailers, such as Sephora. You can also buy some cologne for men directly from a brand's website.

Is it safe to buy cologne on Amazon?

In general, it is safe to buy cologne on Amazon, but we recommend checking the "Sold by" information and reading reviews first to avoid counterfeit cologne.

We've heard reports of fake fragrances sold through sites like Amazon, which allow third-party sellers to list products. If you are going to purchase cologne from Amazon, check to see if the product is being sold directly by Amazon or through a third party. This information is easy to find if you know where to look on the product listing page. Below the "Buy Now" button, search for a field that says "Sold by", as in the screenshot below. This information can change when you select a different size or amount, so be careful.

amazon cologne product listing page

In general, when buying commonly counterfeited items like cologne or designer handbags, it's better to be safe than sorry. We prefer to buy these products on Amazon only when Amazon is selling the product directly themselves:

amazon cologne product listing page

How to choose the right cologne for men?

Remember: Choosing the best colognes is always a highly subjective process because of the personal factors that affect how the fragrance interacts with your body and your particular preferred scent profile. For example, dry and oily skin could affect how long the fragrance lasts. Your age, body chemistry, diet and even mood can also impact how a fragrance will actually smell when applied. Here at Spy, we look for cologne with citrus, woodsy and mineral notes.

  

1. Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette Natural Spray

BEST OVERALL

For a great modern take on traditional masculine fragrances, check out the Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette Natural Spray. This cologne subtly shouts confident Mediterranean man to anyone privileged enough to get close to you, with top notes of citrus, a floral heart of sage and hyacinth and base notes of amber and musk.

Of course, this is also the most expensive cologne on this list. A 1.7-ounce bottle will cost you $70, but if you only need to use designer cologne on special occassions, then the 1-ounce bottle can be yours for $55.

Versace Pour Homme Eau De Toilette cologne, best cheap cologne Courtesy of Amazon

  

2. Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche Eau De Toilette Spray

RUNNER-UP

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche first splashed onto the scene in 1982 and never looked back, courtesy of its signature, complex, masculine fragrance. There are seven ingredients in the top notes alone, nevermind the 13 other ingredients in the heart and base notes. But you won’t just smell manly with this eau de toilette cologne either: Per ounce of cologne, in a 6.7-ounce bottle, Drakkar Noir is one of the best values on the market, especially when you consider its enduring popularity and high-quality fragrance.

Just be aware that Drakkar Noir’s fragrance is strong, and though we dig it, it might be a little strong for you or your significant other, especially if you’re prone to over-applying.

Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche Eau De Toilette cologne, best cheap cologne Courtesy of Amazon

  

3. Nautica Blue Eau De Toilette Spray for Men

CONTENDER

Alas, we think your money is better spent on Drakkar Noir, but for one of the best cheap colognes, you can’t do much better than Nautica Blue Eau De Toilette Spray for Men. Designed to remind of the adventurous man on land and sea, this is a lovely smelling aromatic aquatic fragrance, with top notes of green leaves, apple and lotus, a heart of jasmine and water lily and base notes of musk, sandalwood and cedarwood. But, as always, you get what you pay for: The fragrance doesn’t last very long and it’s not that potent to begin with, so you may end up re-applying more often than you’d like. Even so, for its great price-per-ounce value, Nautica Blue is still one of the best cheap colognes.

Nautica Blue Eau De Toilette cologne, best cheap cologne Courtesy of Amazon

  

4. Hawthorne Work and Play Colognes

BEST CUSTOM COLOGNE

Hawthorne’s claim to fame is its personalization-based product selection and refill subscriptions. Before you can browse most of Hawthorne’s products, you have to take a personality and grooming quiz, which Hawthorne uses to pre-select products from its various grooming lines tailored to your needs, such as deodorant, body wash, soap, shampoo and conditioner and, of course, cologne. (You don’t have to buy all of the products, of course.)

And Hawthorne means business: You literally cannot go to the website and buy the cologne off the shelf without taking the quiz. But while that might seem like an inconvenience, it’s actually a great solution to the common problem most guys have: Not knowing what kind of cologne they would want. Once you’ve taken the quiz, Hawthorne presents you with versions of its Work and Play colognes it thinks match your personality and likes. You can buy both for $100 or just one of them for $50. And the colognes offer a great value, with 1.7 ounces of cologne for each bottle.

Overall, what really makes Hawthorne worth it is the simplicity of the entire cologne process. Even though the colognes are a bit pricier than other options here, they’re pretty cheap overall and still some of the best cheap colognes. Most importantly, it smells really good, it’s the go-to cologne of Spy E-Commerce Editor Tyler Schoeber.

Hawthorne Work and Play colognes Courtesy of Hawthorne

  

5. Dollar Shave Club Blueprint 203 Cologne

WRITER’S FAVORITE

It’s fresh, crisp and your writer’s go-to cologne for any occasion that requires something nicer than jeans, it’s the Dollar Shave Club Blueprint 203. With notes of sandalwood, grassy vetiver, golden musk, almondy tonka bean, sage and cedarwood, this is one of the best cheap colognes for guys who want to smell masculine but don’t think that has to mean smelling ultra woody and leathery.

The downside is value. For 50 mL of cologne (about 1.7 ounces), $50 is a lot of money. (Yeah, $1 per milliliter isn’t that cheap.) And the fragrance won’t hold for more than a few hours, unless you want to firehose yourself in this stuff. But that aside, I bought this on a total whim — “An adult dude like myself should always have a good cologne,” I thought — and I have zero regrets whatsoever.

Dollar Shave Club Blueprint 203 cologne Courtesy of Dollar Shave Club

  

6. Calvin Klein Everyone

Calvin Klein is most famous for its iconic white briefs, which are undergoing a major surge in popularity at the moment. However, the brand is also famous for its signature fragrance CK One. You can’t go wrong with a bottle of CK One in your medicine cabinet; however, we would recommend trying out Calvin Klein Everyone instead. This eau de toilette is a more modern fragrance, with refreshing notes of citrus, ginger, cedarwood and fresh water. Not only is the vegan fragrance alcohol-free, but it’s also a “clean” fragrance, meaning it’s earned a Silver Level Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute.

A 1.6-ounce bottle starts at $55, so it’s slightly more expensive than other options on this list, but we couldn’t in good conscience leave it off our list.

calvin klein everyone cologne bottle Courtesy of Calvin Klein
  

7. Pi By Givenchy For Men. Eau De Toilette Spray

HIGHLY RATED

Pi By Givenchy For Men Eau De Toilette Spray was among the highest-rated fragrances we found on Amazon, with more than 2,500 users giving it five stars. And we can understand why. Rosemary, basil, tarragon, neroli and herbs combine into a lasting, woody, masculine fragrance at a reasonable price for 3.3 ounces of luxury-level cologne. But don’t just take our word for it: One satisfied reviewer called it the “best smelling, affordable cologne out there.”

Pi By Givenchy for Men Eau De Toilette cologne Courtesy of Amazon

  

8. ARAMIS by Aramis Eau De Toilette Spray

CLASSIC FRAGRANCE

ARAMIS by Aramis Eau De Toilette Spray is good for one thing and one thing only: Smelling as refined and sophisticated as Aramis of The Three Musketeers for whom the fragrance is named. With notes of leather, jasmine, amber, sandalwood, clove and moss, Aramis promises a unique, masculine scent that seems similar to other colognes but that’s just a little more refined.

The cologne is made even better for its totally reasonable price, even for larger 3.7-ounce bottles. Without a doubt, the Aramis Eau De Toilette is one of the best cheap colognes.

Aramis Eau De Toilette cologne Courtesy of Amazon

  

9. Fulton & Roark Tybee Solid Cologne

BEST SOLID COLOGNE

If you’re actually looking for the best cheap colognes, solid colognes can offer a level of cheapness (and convenience) unmatched by liquid colognes. For a more upscale solid cologne, we highly recommend Fulton & Roark Tybee Solid Cologne. With a fragrance inspired by crisp sea air, the Tybee cologne is fresh as hell and perfect for summer. Amber and musk fill out the top notes, followed by rosewood and cedarwood for an overall clean fragrance.

Our usual dollar-per-ounce test doesn’t quite work with solid cologne, as a single tin only contains 0.2 ounces in the tin. However, Fulton & Roark suggests it would take a daily user four months to use up the whole tin, so we believe this more than qualifies as one of the best cheap colognes under $50. Plus, solid cologne avoids over-application, as 100% of the product ends up on your body.

Fulton & Roark Tybee solid cologne Courtesy of Fulton & Roark

  

10. Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme Eau De Toilette

PREMIUM COLOGNE

For a cheap size of a premium cologne, turn to Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme Eau De Toilette. Unfortunately, it’s among the more expensive colognes on our list in both absolute and relative dollars, given the 1.7-ounce bottle, but it’s worth every penny. I’ve previously owned this cologne and it smells fantastic. It’s definitely a fresh-feeling cologne inspired by the Mediterranean, with citrus and juniper top notes, a heart of pepper and rosewood and base notes of muskwood, incense and oak moss.

If I didn’t have a tragic accident with my bottle of this particular pour homme cologne, I would still be using this Dolce & Gabbana fragrance today.

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Pour Homme Eau De Toilette cologne Courtesy of Sephora

  

11. Duke Cannon Supply Co. Solid Cologne Balm

BEST CHEAP SOLID COLOGNE

The Duke Cannon Supply Co. makes some of our favorite men’s grooming products. The company’s Solid Cologne Balm costs less than most liquid colognes and it’ll likely last longer too. Walk around with the Buffalo Trace bourbon-inspired fragrance and you’ll feel and smell like a masculine badass.

Duke Cannon Supply Co Solid Cologne Balm Courtesy of Amazon

  

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